Mamma Mia: Here we go again... again
On my 23rd Birthday I went to the Trafford Centre in Manchester for a cinema trip to see the brand new Mamma Mia film! As with the first film, I had gone back to watch the film in the cinemas several times with different people. And I was very much one of those people who wished I was one of the girls dancing down the lane singing to Dancing Queen in the film. So I was very much prepared for the sequel to give me an energy boost and a heart full of cheesy songs! How wrong was I?!
It was to my horror that (spoiler alert) the whole film was reduced to creating a plot surrounded by death. Don't get me wrong, I can handle deaths in films and when they are done properly it can really add a different dimension to a film. But with Mamma Mia, the death of Donna felt lazy and unnecessary. I was so upset that every time our hearts were lifted by the past sequences, they were immediately washed away with heartache. This was not the film I wanted to see. Every good part was torn to shreds with death. And when Donna's ghost finally showed up and sang a heartbreakingly sad version of My Love, My Life, I was angry. I was sat in the movie theatre on my birthday sobbing my heart out. Not only because the scene was sad (which to be fair, it did very well), but I felt like I had been betrayed. I had been lied to by the trailers, hype and previous film. And when I left the cinema, I couldn't hug my Mum tighter and we both agreed that thank goodness we didn't bring my Grandmother to see it with us!
It was while I was walking back to the car, I vowed to myself that I would change that story. That wouldn't be the version I would see again. I would make it better.
My plan? Buy the two films and merge them together.
Like I said before, Mamma Mia 1 was a brilliant film that was positive from start to finish. Mamma Mia 2 was positive in places but they were mainly drowned by the death of Donna. And if it wasn't about Donna, it was about Rosie breaking up with Bill (just so they could put in one ABBA song may I add). But those good scenes could easily be saved as they were scenes that showed the early life of Donna. So if done well, Donna's life story, mixed with the whole original film, could even heighten and make a much stronger film.
As I waited for the second film's release, I began to experiment with the song 'Mamma Mia'. Both films included the song and I knew that my film would either have to chose one, or merge the two together. I began playing with the soundtracks and I was very pleased with the results. Both versions had the same tempo and the same lyrics except for the second verse. But I wasn't too worried about that, the songs fitted together perfectly and only if you knew, the new song sounded like it was recorded in the same year. As someone with no strong audio engineering background, I was very pleased with the result. So much so, I still listen to my version of Mamma Mia on my phone when travelling! It was thanks to this, that I decided that I would try my best to merge the two songs and two scenes together.
Then the second film came out and I was able to get started on my project!
I rewatched both films and found out one striking thing. Timecode wise, the song Mamma Mia is in two completely different parts of the films!
Mamma Mia: 3rd song played
Mamma Mia 2: 11th song played
This could be a problem. Well, I can remove the songs that are featured in the present for Mamma Mia 2. That takes the songs listing to 9. So with this in mind I would have to really plan my plot line out.
For better or for worse, I discovered that I only had one option to edit the films. Try and fit the majority of the life story in the first few sections of the original film so the two Mamma Mia songs sat perfectly next to each other in the story line.
I played with the scenes and what I achieved actually worked very well. Even though I didn't know it at the beginning of the project, having a barrier for where both films needed to be in the project at certain time, actually gave the audience a good place and idea of the plot. It gave enough information to show that there is mother and daughter who are planning a wedding in the future. And as other characters entered the plot, the audience is shown their back story and how they fit into this narrative. Meaning by the time we get to Mamma Mia song, the audience completely understands Donna's reaction when she sees her three past boyfriends in her old Goat House.
My version of Mamma Mia scene is not at all perfect but with using the final published versions of the songs, I feel that it is a very acceptable attempt in trying to merge the two.
My triumph though with this project is with the song 'Slipping through my fingers'. This song and scene is automatically the most emotional part of the original film. However, I had the idea that maybe I could use the past scenes that are used for the song 'I've been waiting for you' which show Donna's pregnancy. It was a natural idea as the song Slipping through my fingers talks about the end of the traditional relationship. And with having scenes of the start of the mother and daughter relationship against words of dreams and wishes gone makes such a strong scene. Plus it creates a truly emotional scene that requires no one dying.
To conclude my little entry on this project, I found this project very rewarding and showed me what I can achieve with my editorial skills. Even though some minor plot lines don't match up between the two films, I think I made small changes that made sense to the final result.
On the whole it was a very enjoyable experience. I think the Mamma Mia story is a positive and heartwarming narrative. And with my version, (which I like to call Mamma Mia 3), perfectly reflects that feeling. And if I was to walk out of the cinema with my Mum from this film, I think we would be dancing, singing and hugging with warm hearts instead of hearts broken with what will inevitavly happen in the future.
Films are for escape. A magical experience that can transport you to different worlds. And if you buy a ticket for a feel good movie, that is exactly what you should get.